Guest Blogger: Smile Politely’s Joel Gillespie takes on the Rolaids Relief Man Awards

Each day this week, The Baseball Zealot will be featuring special guest bloggers who will be giving their predictions on the 2009 MLB end-of year-awards and postseason matchups.  In our third installment of the series, Joel Gillespie breaks down the candidates for the MLB Rolaids Relief Man Award.

joel I first met Joel Gillespie earlier this year when he interviewed me for a article for Champaign-Urbana’s online magazine Smile Politely.  I must admit, it was an overly flattering article so I’m forever in his debt. 

Aside from covering the local cultural scene, Joel has been known to touch on baseball topics on Smile Politely. His major league loyalties lie northward with the Minnesota Twins.

The Rolaids Relief Man Award is a little different from the rest of the awards analyzed here, in that it’s based on an accumulation of points rather than votes. According to the award website, "The Rolaids Relief Man Award® [don’t even think about using that phrase for personal profit] is based objectively on statistical performance, rather than subjective opinion." So, there will be no inquiring into the hearts of shoddy, bitter beat reporters in this article. Instead, we’ll take a look at which pitcher leads in the Most Favored Antacid standings and try to decide whether the algorithm will choose the right man or not.

Here’s the scoring system: award_photo
+4 for a "tough save" (when a reliever enters a game with the tying run  already on base and gets the save)
+3 for a save
+2 for a win
-2 for a blown save
-2 for a loss

And here are the leaders from each league:

American League

Rank Player Win Loss Saves Tough Saves Blown Saves Points ERA
1 Mariano Rivera 2 2 39 4 1 119 1.72
2 Brian Fuentes 1 4 41 1 6 106 4.10
3 Joe Nathan 2 2 38 1 5 105 2.20
4 Jonathan Papelbon 1 1 36 3 3 105 1.89
5 David Aardsma 3 5 34 1 4 91 2.12

Rivera is clearly head and shoulders above the rest of the American League closers this season, and you don’t need a convoluted formula to see that. He’s even getting some dark-horse consideration for the Cy Young award, mostly as a lifetime-achievement-award kind of thing. That would be a travesty, but he’s certainly having a season worthy of his fifth Rolaids Relief Man award, which will tie him with Dan Quisenberry for the most all time. Barring a collapse, or a bunch of narrow wins for the Angels, Twins, or Sox, he should capture it with ease.

Aardsma has really come into his own this season, posting his first season ERA under 4.00. His flyball tendencies are even more pronounced than usual, but the spacious confines of Safeco Field keep the consequences to a minimum. With his fifth club in five years, Aardsma has found a home, holding opponents to a .191 batting average and striking out 10.5 batters per nine innings.

National League

Rank Player Win Loss Saves Tough Saves Blown Saves Points ERA
1 Heath Bell 5 3 37 3 5 108 2.66
2 Jonathan Broxton 7 1 34 2 5 106 2.53
3 Ryan Franklin 2 3 37 4 4 105 1.96
4 Huston Street 3 1 33 0 1 101 2.96
5 Brian Wilson 5 5 34 6 6 96 2.69

This race is completely up in the air. Who will win the cherished silver fireman’s hat? Bell’s been one of the only bright spots for a putrid Pad squad, finally coming into his own after a career as a setup man. Broxton’s benefited from some good fortune to keep him in the race, picking up three vulture wins after blowing saves. Franklin is probably the most deserving candidate, but he’s limping to the finish line. He’s blown two consecutive saves, and he has a 16.20 ERA in four September appearances.

Street and Wilson have contributed to their teams’ surprising contender status by keeping things stable at the back end of their respective bullpens. 

Thank you to Joel for taking time from his busy schedule to write this up.  Check out the other end-of-year award analyses we’ve put up so far and check back later this week for more. 


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